In the course of her career as a principal artist, Amber has found that reading deepens her interpretations on stage. She read Manon and Eugene Onegin to better understand her characters in those ballets, and has just read Anna Karenina ahead of our 2020 production. Before she danced the pas de deux from The Silver Rose, she read Collette’s Cherie to glean some insight into the pain of an older woman losing her young lover; she read Tess of the D’Urbervilles to get a feel for the moral world of the 19th century, in which so many ballet stories take place.
But she also reads for pleasure and relaxation. Here are a few of her top picks.
A FORTUNATE LIFE
I read this when I was about ten, and it’s the first adult story I can remember reading. It’s the memoir of a man who lived an incredibly hard life, including a poverty-stricken childhood and fighting at Gallipoli. It makes you really grateful for everything we have now, but also makes you realise how sometimes it’s the people with nothing that can truly see the beauty in life.
TENDER IS THE NIGHT
F. Scott Fitzgerald
I love The Great Gatsby, but this is my favourite Fitzgerald. It’s a dark novel with flawed characters, but the prose style is so beautiful.
A MOVEABLE FEAST
I like to read this whenever I go to Paris. It’s set there in the 1920s and describes Hemingway’s relationships with all these incredible literary celebrities.
DOWN AND OUT IN PARIS AND LONDON
Although it’s set in a totally different era, I read this while I was rehearsing Manon, just to try and understand that gritty feeling of being completely down on your luck. It got me thinking about how artists will often produce their best material in their darkest times.
MY BRILLIANT FRIEND
This was so different to what I’d expected it to be, and I couldn’t stop reading these books. They’re kind of like an Italian soap opera, and I loved reading this while I was in Naples. I like to read books in their settings: I really enjoyed reading The Talented Mr Ripley in Rome and Florence.
This is such a romantic story, perhaps because it doesn’t try to be. It’s about a female spy during World War II, and there’s a parallel story with her daughter, in the 1970s, discovering her secrets. It’s still on my shelf because I thought it was the perfect example of how to write about love without being saccharine.
This was a real eye-opener for me, and so powerfully evoked what it would be like to live under the East German regime. And the writing is just so amazing and beautiful.
This was a classic holiday read on a plane, and everyone around me was reading it too! I really enjoyed it.
ON THE ROAD
I love how rebellious the characters are in this, and I love the ‘nothing to lose’ sense of adventure. I do enjoy a road trip! I knew that Kerouac had written it on one continuous piece of paper, and I thought about that a lot as I read it.
A YEAR IN PROVENCE
This is my ultimate comfort book. I’ve read it many times. Whenever I want to wrap myself in a doona and indulge myself, I’ll read some of this. Who doesn’t love a bit of France?